Upside Down World! A World of New Normals! | Word from the Shepherd No. 150

28th Ordinary Sunday B
Wis.7:7-11; Heb.4:12-13; Mk.10:17-30

Dr Mary Neal, an orthopaedic surgeon, while kayaking in South America, was swept over a waterfall, and was pinned at the bottom, and drowned. (She went up to heaven. Conversed with Jesus.  Experienced God’s encompassing love. She was told to return to Earth). Upon her return, she wrote a book “To Heaven & Back”. A new understanding, a new purpose, a new awareness and a new relationship with God and Jesus, swept over her.

Encounters with God open us to new dimensions. Something happens to us. We make something happen around us.

In Wisdom, Solomon encountered God in prayer. He met the Pre-existent Word, the word that was there from the beginning, the law or the spirit or the order alive in all things. This encounter transformed Solomon. He became a new person, with the Spirit of Wisdom and understanding; the grace to see beyond wealth, health and beauty.

The Hebrew writer encountered God in the written word. And so he testified that the scriptures were living, a doubled edged sword; that uncovered and judged secret emotions and thoughts; and that made him transparent and accountable to the One who sees all..

Mark saw the encounter with Jesus as the encounter with self. It was a meeting that made the rich young see himself, his basic goodness, his faithfulness, his love for God, His readiness and reluctance, and the stumbling blocks and attachments  in his god-walk.

Every encounter with the Living God, whether in creation, in the scriptures, in prayer,  in personal misadventures or near death experiences, always had this common element. They returned as new persons, with their world turned upside down. It is life-changing.

We have a choice to be excessively individualistic or become self emptying, welcoming, sharing disciples of Christ. Where there is excessive individualism, there is no sense of the other, the nation or church….there is no sense of being a disciple or a priest.

Or we can be like the rich young man, much loved by Jesus, kept all the laws, was a religious person but still seeking “eternal life”. Something was still missing. He was looking for something more. He was a man of faith without mission, the missing element in most of us.

Jesus reminded us that we, good people or men and women of faith, are born with a mission. And this was what  Pope Francis said to the young people:”I am a mission on this Earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world”. When each of us  live his or her mission, we turn the world upside down because:

  1. We descend. We break down the walls of separation and distinction.
  2. We renounce. We reject our privileges and our attachments.
  3. We embrace. We let compassion take over. We include the cross, the suffering and poverty as part of our  lives.
  4. We go forth. We express faith because mission is the living of our faith, going beyond rituals. It is a mission of love that overcomes evil. All suffering and poverty are evil.
  5. We liberate. We alleviate, free and enable the poor to fend for themselves. We use our resources and our inner wealth  in loving service, and to wipe out all forms of evil. Jesus says: You did it to Me.

Our world is turned upside down when our lifestyles, our priorities and our perspectives are reversed. We begin to see with God’s eyes, understand with God’s mind, and love what God loves.

A new normal replaces the old normals.